Bernie Sanders is a remarkable character.
The first poll he appears in is an ABC News/Washington Post poll in April 2015, where he trailed Hilary Clinton by – y’know – a little bit.
When I say a little bit, I mean Clinton at 69% and Bernie at 2%. Even in the latter days of November, the polls said he was still at half of Clinton’s numbers, at best.
Now – in a country where anyone who describes themselves as a social-anything is lampooned as a communist, or attempting to take away the people’s freedom – he is at 41.4% to Clinton’s 52.8%.
In the USA, though, polls do not always turn into hard numbers.
Sanders has had an uphill battle for the last year, and now sits at 1864 delegates to Clinton’s 2765.
In a Facebook post, Sanders reiterated he would continue fighting for social justice, “and I know that the fight in front of us is a very, very steep fight, but we will continue to fight for every vote and every delegate we can get.”
The fight is not just steep; it is next to impossible.
Nevertheless, Sanders’ pledge to continue the fight has led some to speculate what might happen after the primaries.
I have three possible paths he might take.
1) The Bern, Bern, Bern
Sanders’ passion for his cause, and his vehement disbelief in the capitalist system of America has put him at odds with Wall Street backed rivals, such as Hilary Clinton.
His promise to his supporters to continue the fight against the 1% clashes with neoliberal ideas held by Clinton, and so it is very possible Sanders could simply become a fly in Clinton’s ear.
He may be a Vermont Senator, but if Sanders foresees this to act against him, he might be pressed into being an equivalent to what Russell Brand attempted to become – a symbol for the people.
Instead of acting within government, Sanders could become a high-profile lobbyist and social demonstrator, leading the cause of socialism on the streets of Washington DC.
2) The Reformist
Sanders said in his Facebook post he had received a phone call from President Obama, whom he looks “forward to working with…to ensure that we move this country forward.”
It is possible Sanders either remains in his position as Senator or outside, and acts as the reformist of the new Clinton government. Someone to be called upon as a reliable and well-meaning voice.
It is interesting he said he looked forward to working with Obama, as it is unclear what role Obama may pursue after the White House. If it is in social justice, perhaps this would see a combined (less militant style of option 1) movement towards reform.
Even so, Sanders could become a voice within the political system for people, in a more reformist manner than blazing demonstration.
3) The Left-Hand Man
Hilary did it, so could Bernie?
After failing to secure the nomination in 2008, Clinton endorsed her rival, and became Obama’s Secretary of State, holding the position for 4 years.
Would Bernie be able to perform such a close role in a Clinton administration? This is perhaps unlikely, considering the differences Sanders has.
Some would argue he could put these aside, but judging from Sanders’ style of campaign, I cannot see him siding with Clinton as a matter of principle, even if it brought about change.
It is possible he would see this as an attempt to silence him, giving him a government position to keep his tongue in check with the help of a party whip.
Whatever Sanders ultimately chooses, what he has done for America is more than simply provide them with hope. He has provided the world with hope; hope that, after such a long time, America is finally moving forwards.
I do not mean politically, I mean culturally. It no longer sees the s-word with the hammer and sickle, or the memory of the Cold War. It shows America is progressing, and becoming open to ideas that it might not have accepted before.
It is encouraging to see Sanders inspire such hope in a number of young voters, who are always more likely to lean towards the radical candidate. But in this case, it is a candidate fighting for “social justice” more than anything else.
From that, we can take comfort.